WASHINGTON — Despite strong public opposition, the Biden administration is allowing federal agencies to continue awarding contracts to ineligible entities “self-certifying” as women-owned small businesses (WOSB) or service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) to appear as though they are meeting required contracting goals.
To reduce fraud and stolen valor in federal contracting, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, introduced the Accountability in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act and the Stop Stolen Valor for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Contractors Act. The efforts require agencies to only take credit for contract awards made to certified WOSB and SDVOSB and force federal agencies failing to meet their WOSB goals to testify before Congress.
“There are no real consequences if federal agencies do not meet their goals to support women-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Failure has become routine,” said Senator Ernst. “As departments continue to take credit for contract awards made to ineligible businesses, I’m fighting to bring accountability to federal contracting.”
Groups in support of the Accountability in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act:
“Given the government has rarely met its goal for contract awards to women-owned firms, self-certification is clearly not working. Expansion of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB/EDWOSB) certification requirement increases the integrity of the program and gives federal buyers assurance that these companies are ready to do business,” said the Women’s Procurement Circle.
“WCOE has long-held that one of the reasons federal agencies do not meet the WOSB goals is because there is not enough transparency and agencies are not held accountable when they don’t meet the goals. The legislation introduced by Senator Ernst takes an important step toward accountability for federal agencies failing to meet WOSB participation goals by requiring them to submit a report to Congress and testify about the report to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the House Small Business Committees outlining remediation plans moving forward. The importance of this step cannot be overstated and WCOE applauds Senator Ernst for moving forward with reforms to help empower women small businesses and for taking a fresh look at the barriers facing women in the federal marketplace today,” said Lee Cunningham, Chairman of Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE) Legislative Committee.
“Senator Ernst’s Accountability in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act takes important steps towards creating a level playing field for Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and ensuring that federal agencies come closer to meeting the federal contracting goals for the WOSB program. WIPP supports this legislation, and applauds Senator Ernst’s ongoing efforts to create more opportunities for women entrepreneurs to succeed and grow their businesses,” said Candace Waterman, President & CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).
Groups in support of Stop Stolen Valor for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Contractors Act:
“The National Veteran Small Business Coalition applauds Senator Ernst for her leadership in ensuring that companies claiming Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) status do in fact meet the requirements for that socioeconomic category. Extending the certification requirements for both prime and subcontracting set aside goals closes a major gap in the SDVOSB set aside program and levels the playing field by validating that every Service Disabled Veteran who receives the benefit qualifies for the benefit,” said Scott Jensen, Executive Director of the National Veteran Small Business Coalition.
“Loopholes allowing small businesses to self-certify as Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) cause imposters to take advantage of government contracting benefits exclusive for SDVOSBs. This has directly led to stolen valor and fraud against the American taxpayer. These egregious practices must end now, that is why The American Legion is proud to support the Stop Stolen Valor for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Contractors Act of 2023 and applaud Senator Ernst’s leadership on behalf of our nation’s heroes,” said Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola, National Commander of the American Legion.
“The recent successful migration of the veteran small business certification program from the VA to the SBA highlights the necessity to do away with self-certification. In an increasingly competitive federal marketplace, there is no room for stolen valor. It is imperative that veteran-owned companies utilize the SBA certification to do business with the federal government,”said the Women Veterans Business Coalition.
“Self-certification defeats the purpose of guaranteeing that Service Disabled Certified and Veteran Certified firms are fairly represented in federal contracting as per the law. We have been well aware for quite some time of the efforts by both some primes and subs to circumvent the regulations and take advantage of loopholes. Thousands of veteran-owned companies and at an expense, have complied with becoming certified first through the VA and now with SBA. It is only fair that everyone be held to the same expectations and standards,”said Ronald S. Washington, Vet-Force Executive Committee Member and CEO of Premiers Secours LLC.